Another Bag of Empty Promises for NIMASA Graduates

The Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Mr. Ahmed Gambo, Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Technology of the Liverpool John Moore University, United Kingdom, Professor Ahmed Al-Shamma in a photograph with some of the NIMASA sponsored Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) cadets during their graduation ceremony from the Liverpool John Moore University, UK recently.

Gboyega Oni
“Let me congratulate you on this great feat of your graduation from this prestigious University. On our part as a government, we are committed to capacity building initiatives as it remains the only means the maritime industry can survive and compete favourably with its counterparts globally; we will ensure you all go through the mandatory sea time training, so that you can become better experts and professionals in the maritime sector both in Nigeria and internationally.”
This statement of Dr. Dakuku Peterside, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) at the graduation of another 59 beneficiaries of Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) in London has become a rhetoric. At the NSDP graduations before now, it was the same promissory statements by NIMASA DGs, no action to match the statements.
The NSDP graduates are not different from the products of Nigerian universities who, upon graduation, roam about the streets in search of jobs that are not in existence. Where is the sea time training not to talk of full employment? According to information, those who had graduated years back are yet to go on sea time training; with these new 59 the number has increased and will continue to increase as as long as sea time training is a promise which may never become an action.
Only God can comprehend what experience the graduates of Maritime Academy of Nigeria at Oron in Akwa Ibom State might be going through now. The issue of sea time training has been a major problem for the school and its products. Government officials had made series of promises to get the students onboard ships in Greece and other parts of the world for training with no ships at sight for them to board.
DGs before Peterside made similar promises which were never fulfilled, so Peterside’s may not be different. This is simply because NSDP is like a hydro power dam with no water, a company with no head. It is a pity that these 59 would certainly become powerless upon returning to the country and  discover that their certificate is watery just like the graduates before them. NIMASA is just bersking in the euphoria of turning out graduates with no platform on ground for them to put to use their studies for the benefit of the nation and themselves.
The platform, the local shipping industry is not doing well now as many of them have completely gone underground and those who manage to float many of their ships have been seized by the Nigerian Navy over thumped up charges. Their vessels are rotting away at the detention camps of the Navy; nobody cares to come to their rescue. These are the people, in true sense and in fairness to ourselves, that can truly provide the platform for the sea time training needed by the cadets. Local shipping operators are not well protected by NIMASA even under the present administration of Peterside. Where is NIMASA?
Nigeria is a mono-economic nation; petroleum. It is no longer pitiable but suicidal that Nigerian ship owners are not taking part in the lifting of the crude while foreign vessels are having a full day. Reason for their deprivation is that their vessels do not have capacity to lift crude and that the operators do not have enough management skill and knowledge on crude oil shipping. Where is NIMASA?
A developed local shipping industry is the best bedrock for the success of the NSDP; it has to be given adequate attention which NIMASA has not given it. How long will take NIMASA to utilise several billions of Naira in its custody in the name of cabotage for the industry? This money is wasting its value while its purpose is rotting away. The money is for the growth of the industry; it has to be disbursed to Nigerian shipping operators who merit it. Wise spending of the money would energise shipping operators to invest more in the industry, buy new ships that can provide sea time training for the NSDP products and Oron  instead of NIMASA looking abroad.
Peterside must end this rhetorics and act fast to make local shipping industry grow and productive in the interest of the nation. Where is the capacity which Peterside promised on assumption office? “We are committed to capacity building initiatives,” so says Peterside. Such capacity can only come when the operators are fully operational contributing positively to the growth of the nation. Capacity building must be taking away from the realm of rhetoric at NIMASA and be domiciled in realm of production at local shipping operators domain.
This may help Nigeria win the coveted IMO Category C election may be in 2024. By then the management of the nation’s maritime industry will be in the hands of capable and knowledgeable people who can really initiate a purposeful, productive capacity development programme for the nation’s shipping industry, and rhetoric will stop.


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